Fast Facts About Fibro
Fibro, a casual term for fibromyalgia, is an arthritis-related syndrome with a collection of symptoms. The condition isn’t actually arthritis since those with fibro have no measurable swelling in the joints like arthritis sufferers. But it can be significantly debilitating and often difficult to treat.
Here’s some interesting information about fibromyalgia you may not have known.
Diagnosis is Difficult
This condition is difficult to diagnose since the symptoms can vary significantly. Fibro symptoms are often confused with symptoms of other diseases which means misdiagnosis is common among those who suffer from fibromyalgia.
The syndrome has been called the Great Imitator because the symptoms are so varied, often look like the symptoms of other diseases, and are difficult to pinpoint to a specific cause. The condition often remains undiagnosed for years. On average, it takes five years for a sufferer to get an accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia according to the National Fibromyalgia Association.
Pain is the Underlying Symptom
Although the symptoms of fibromyalgia are so varied and can mimic other conditions, the one symptom needed for a diagnosis of the condition is widespread muscle pain and tenderness.
This widespread pain and tenderness is different from that experienced by arthritis sufferers in that it doesn’t come from joint, muscle or other tissue damage or inflammation.
The cause of the pain is unknown, but to be diagnosed with fibro, a person needs to experience generalized whole-area pain in four specific quadrants of the body continually for at least three months.
The quadrants of the body are further broken down into tender points, according to the American College of Rheumatology. There are 18 tender points. To receive a fibromyalgia diagnosis, an individual must experience pain in 11 of these tender points. Often weight testing is done to determine pain in tender points instead of simply depending exclusively on patient reporting of pain.
Psychological Conditions Are Associated With Fibromyalgia
It was once thought that fibromyalgia was caused by a mental problem that made an individual dream up pain as a way to get attention. It’s becoming more widely recognized as an actual medical problem in the doctors and medical researchers.
Although fibromyalgia isn’t caused by a psychological condition, some of the conditions typically associated with the syndrome are psychological.
The American College of Rheumatology conducted a steady evaluating 307 fibromyalgia sufferers for an eleven-year period. Those who had severe physical pain also tended to have severe psychological issues like depression. Those who had moderate physical issues tended to have mild to moderate psychological issues.
Fibro is Manageable But Not Curable
Once someone has fibromyalgia, they will have it for the rest of their life. It is an incurable condition. The good news is that the symptoms can be managed through traditional medication, alternative therapies and lifestyle changes.
Each of these treatment options can provide pain relief and help the sufferer sleep better. Anxiety and depression are common among fibromyalgia sufferers but medication can help with this so that the sufferer can live a more normal life.
Extreme Fatigue is Common
Many fibromyalgia sufferers also suffer from a variety of sleep conditions including sleep apnea. Studies have shown that many fibro sufferers don’t reach the state of restorative sleep which helps the body heal itself. Lack of sleep can cause problems like memory lapses (sometimes called fibro fog), lack of energy and cognitive problems.
Some statistics show that approximately 90 percent of fibromyalgia sufferers also suffer from a sleep disorder and severe fatigue, or both.
Different People, Different Symptoms
While the symptoms of fibromyalgia are generally the same, the way they manifest themselves in each person is different. This can add to the difficulty of getting a correct diagnosis. Scientists don’t know why this is the case and suspect that they won’t know until the cause of the syndrome has been determined.